Sunshine Letter | Ode to a sister in song

Suzanne Carlen
Special to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — We were the lucky ones to have known her!

If you took a sample of everyone who ever made contact with Holly Beatie since she landed in the Tahoe/Truckee area the better part of three decades ago, and asked them, “Who was Holly Beatie?” you would, no doubt, come away with dozens of wildly fascinating answers.

Why would that be? The short answer is Holly was gifted with too much ability, creativity and spirit (and the big one … drum-roll please!) and she had the desire to put all that energy in motion!

Gone way too soon, Holly was hitting her stride when in the summer/fall of 2012 it was apparent something was not right. In fact, terribly, terribly wrong.

In December this year she took another ratchet downward and entered what was to be her most hellacious year. Appointments and treatments replaced her vital, adept world but she never dwelled on that.

She was an optimist — a “damn the torpedoes!” kind of girl. She made us all believe if anyone was going to beat the insidiousness of cancer, surely it was going to be her!

Holly’s physical body succumbed to disease on Jan. 2, 2014. Less than a month earlier, she sang with us for all our scheduled gigs in December.

“How is it she can get herself to practices and gigs and still have the wherewithal to sing?” we secretly marveled. What she lacked in stamina she more than made up for in heart and grit.

One does not come across not too many truly inspirational individuals in life, but that’s exactly what and who she was, in wellness and in betrayed health.

On a personal note: Holly came to pick me up and drive us to Tahoe City to perform at the Holly Art event (no relation!) last month. She arrived promptly to the minute (always appreciated!) and I hopped in to her, what appeared to be, massively over-sized white truck making ungodly diesel grumblings. Flashing that unmistakable Holly grin, she actually assisted me in pushing open the beastly door from the driver’s seat with her trusty cane, which I might add she negotiated with precision! In contrast to the way she used to look behind the wheel, it took my breath away and jarred me into her reality.

Holly was never one to shy away from any red-meat conversation(s) so, true to form, we spoke of unvarnished realities, death/disease, sang a couple show-tunes, laughed and delved into “the next chapter.”

“No fear, no regrets only gratitude and satisfaction for a life well-lived” said the girl from Angels Camp, Calif. “I dun good!”

Here’s to your next chapter Hollyyyyy, know we’re hearing your uniquely sweet voice every time the leads sing “a slice of onion and a raw one” to your favorite, “Java Jive.”

You leave us with both a great void and an indelible impression.

With great love and admiration,

your sisters in song,

The Mountain Belles

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